Bali’s tourism industry has to focus on and invest in art and cultural preservation as the core of the island’s tourism, an official has said.

Tjok Raka Darmawan, head of Badung tourism office, said the island’s tourism industry had an excellent opportunity, as well as the capacity, to preserve local culture due to its strong bargaining position on the international tourism stage.

The preservation of local arts and culture could be done in a large variety of ways, including using traditional textiles, decorative ornaments, handicrafts and other homemade products, noted Darmawan.

He further said it would be sufficient to just call for all multi-stakeholders in the industry to follow these recommendations.

“It requires strong political will to issue and enforce a bylaw on tourism forcing the industry to support local products,” Darmawan said.

Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, also known as Cok Ace, chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Bali chapter, responded positively saying members of the association already applied the bylaw in their hotel and restaurant operations.

“Most hotels and restaurants have already adopted Balinese architectural designs in their properties, as do all restaurants. Almost all the components came from local products,” Cok Ace stated.

However, he admitted there were several products that had to be imported, such as some foods and beverages, as well as hotel and restaurant appliances.

In his capacity as chairman of the Bali Tourism Promotion Board (BPPD), Cok Ace has frequently encouraged regional administrations and the local tourist industry to preserve both natural and cultural assets in their own respective locations.

“In coastal areas, regional administrations are encouraged to redesign beach areas, while at the same time educate the local fishermen to participate in sanitation projects,” he stated.

To preserve traditions and culture, local fishermen and communities should be given ample opportunities to maintain their rituals.

Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Businesses Association (GIPI) Bali, shared similar sentiments, saying Bali must maintain its authenticity.

“People can go anywhere in Indonesia and in the world if they want to enjoy ‘artificial beauty’ while on vacation. Bali’s most precious assets are its nature, tradition and religion, which distinguish it from other tourist destinations,” Wijaya said.

Wiendu Nuryanti, professor of cultural affairs and deputy education and culture minister, said during her recent visit to Denpasar that Indonesia was facing a dilemma in implementing its development programs, while at the same time preserving its rich cultural heritage.

“Indonesia is famed for its diverse ethnic groups, religions and traditions, which are integral to the nation’s strengths,” she said.

Nuryanti went on to say that the government must issue a policy providing incentives and disincentives for investors in the tourist industry.

“Incentives should be given to those who use local products and designs,” she said.

(c)2014 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Tags: bali, indonesia
Photo Credit: A cultural festival in Bali, Indonesia. John Y. Can / Flickr